Russia has retained its top position among developing nations, according to analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Moscow is reducing its indebtedness, which makes it the leader among the largest emerging markets (GEM-10).

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“While not through to the semi-finals of the World Cup, Russia wins the Macro Cup among our GEM-10 grouping of the biggest EMs in our semi-annual rankings. This confirms the result of our year-ahead edition where Russia took the crown from China for the first time,” the banks analysts wrote in its semi-annual guide.

“Russia has massively deleveraged, while China has gone the other way. Russia has the strongest external liquidity indicators and current account and fiscal balances among the big EMs, and one of the lowest levels of external debt.” BofA notes record low inflation in Russia, and high real rates, while GDP growth remains low.

The semi-finalists of the banks World Cup are Korea, China, and Indonesia. “China remains strong in growth and net foreign assets,” BofA says, “but domestic leverage indicators and external liquidity have deteriorated.” Indonesia is catching up with China, while smaller economies like Bulgaria and Taiwan are even ahead of winner Russia.

The losers in the rating, which the bank calls “the fragile three,” are Brazil, South Africa, and Turkey. Last-place South Africas woes are stagflation, twin deficits, and high debt across sectors. Turkey remains second-to-last on the list due to high inflation, a large current account deficit, and a loan/deposit ratio far above 100 percent.

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